Liverpool have won their battle - now it’s war.

Published: Monday, 09 March 2020

The wait is over. Thirty years. None of us that remember watching the great Liverpool teams that Shankly, Paisley and Dalglish built - and Kenny built his own team whatever his critics would have you believe - would ever have imagined that it would be 30 years between the last title and this one.

Jurgen Klopp rightly joins the above Hall of Fame. He’s eclipsed Benitez. The true test of how good a team - or coach is - is delivering a title. The odd Cup success is enjoyable, but it’s no more than that. Porto? Coventry? Wimbledon? As Graeme Souness has often to me ‘everybody can get lucky once’.

If Coronavirus allows - Liverpool will be celebrating, with a packed Anfield, just three matches from now. But then what? Well, that’s when the trouble starts. I believe Liverpool will have to go to war to hold onto their prized assets.

Not the Henderson’s (my player of the year), Robertson’s or Milner’s, but Salah? Mane? Van Dijk? That’s different.

I remember arguing with many a good judge about Ronaldo’s decision to leave Manchester United. There weren’t many that understood why he wanted to leave what was undoubtedly the best club in the world at that time. For me it was simple. He got a call from Real Madrid. If you’re a top pro - if you want to test yourself - if you want to become a legend in the most special jersey of them all - then you can’t resist.

I got to thinking this weekend about who will be on the summer round-a-bout - and why.

Don’t believe what they tell you about Mane and Salah not having much time for each other. It’s worse than that. They deeply dislike each other. Both would be a whole lot happier playing in a team without the other. So - how does that happen? Do Liverpool sell one and keep the other? In an ideal world - yes. But I’ve got a feeling both could be on their way out. Here’s why.....

I fancy that Barca will test Liverpool’s resolve to hang onto Mane. Never mind all the contractural clauses that were written into the Coutinho deal - if Mane has his head turned by the prospect of playing in the Camp Nou - he’s off. A football career is short - and the chances to play for the big two don’t come round too often. And what else could he achieve at Liverpool?

Salah will be thinking the same if Real come calling. I think the smart money has to be on a move to The Bernabeau - but hold on. There are others on the round-a-bout.

Mbappe must be Real’s first choice. He’s currently showing all the signs of a player sowing the seeds of unrest. He wants out at Paris. Anyone disagree? We know where the power lies these days - always with the player.

But Paris have also got Neymar playing up again. They’ve done brilliantly to hang onto him this long - but what has he actually contributed since making it plain last summer that he wanted to go back to Barca? As the late Paul Daniels might say ‘not a lot’.

So - Mbappe engineers a move. Neymar goes too - that means Paris are in the market for a big one. They’ve got to be. My guess is Mo Salah is that big one. Culturally it’s a perfect fit. In my part of the world Salah is a superstar - never mind what they think about him in Liverpool. You’ve got to live where I do to understand the awe in which they hold him here. 

So - that’s Salah to Paris. Mane to Barca with Neymar. As an aside I wonder what Senor Javier Tebas will make of that. Remember him? Well, you can’t forget him really. He’s CE of La Liga, who’s constantly wining about what clubs outside Spain spend. It was him that refused to allow Barca to cash the cheque they got from Paris for Neymar. Strange because I’m sure that what his big two spend this summer won’t bother him too much.

Anyway - if I’m right - that’s Mbappe, Neymar, Mane and Salah on the move. Bale is on the round-a-bout as well. He’ll definitely leave Madrid this summer. But to where? United at last? Spurs? Real will have to help with the wages somehow. It makes no sense for them to keep paying him £650,000/week for so little return. I would add that there’s no reason for Bale to walk away from his deal - Real offered it so they should honour it.

Will van Dijk fancy a move? He’ll certainly be sounded out.

Enjoy the win Liverpool. It’s well deserved and it’s been far too long, but the trouble is about to start.

It’s only two seasons since the football world predicted a decade of dominance from Man City. Only Andy Gray thought differently. He was right. So what chance a decade of Liverpool success? Not much if I’m right. I await with interest the first shots in the upcoming war.